By: Emma Krupp
I was born in in Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, New York, which means that I’ve had New York in my blood since the time I was a baby. My first two years of life were spent in a townhouse just outside the city, where I could look out my window and gape at the Empire State Building and the other tall skyscrapers. Although much of this I do not remember, I am flooded with pictures of my childhood that revolve around the city. My first Halloween as a pumpkin was spent on the street of NYC and the times my grandparents would visit me all depended on the daily traffic commute. Even when I moved to New Jersey to start preschool it seemed my mom was always trying to get me involved in the NYC culture. She took me to my first Broadway musical when I was five and I have spent countless days as a teenager finding activities to do in the city. For me, it was easy to accept what the city was — made up of terrible smells, hotdogs and pretzels sold on the streets, people everywhere, and noise. Over the years I seemed to become oblivious to all of these negatives; New York City was my haven and I loved every aspect of it.
That was the main case up until this past four day break, when I had the privilege to travel to Chicago, Illinois. I knew very little about Chicago going into the trip and upon my arrival, I was shocked. When you are flying down into Chicago, you can see how the city is separated into perfect organized grids; unlike New York City where everything is scattered and crushed closely together. This is one of the first things I noticed when walking around Chicago, it is drastically spread out and spaced evenly. Although there are many popular department stores along the Magnificent Mile, Chicago’s largest shopping district, they all have a few feet of space between them. The buildings are not sitting right on top of each other, fighting for the tallest peak like they do in NYC. Instead, the space between the buildings makes the area seem larger than it really is.
Another difference I found walking around Chicago was how much cleaner it was than NYC. The streets of New York are normally trashed with garbage, left over cigarettes, and food remains. People are always in a rush to get somewhere and there are millions of tourists on the streets. It has the undeniable aroma in the air of sewer water and smoke. However, Chicago smells of crisp midwest air. There is not as much pollution crowding the air and the streets are like sparkling white teeth compared to New York. The streets aren’t only clean, but they contain some of the most patient and polite people I have ever met from a major city. In comparison to the filthy Hudson River, the Chicago River runs through the heart of the city and is a aqua water route straight out to lake Michigan.
Personally, it’s almost comical to think I would never find a city that I loved as much as I loved New York. Yes, I love New York bagels, but Chicago deep dish pizza now tops it all. Yes, I am a huge Broadway fanatic, but Chicago still offers touring theatre productions. Yes, the New York traditions are known worldwide, but there are so many new things for me to explore in Chicago. When reflecting on my time in the Windy City, I find myself longing to return back already. I am already anticipating the excitement I have felt for so many years when traveling to New York.